Ken Meter is a very smart guy. He’s also incredibly friendly and, I hear, very fun to hang out with. He’s vocal about how the government needs to stop throwing cash at commodities and start investing in communities and as author of 70 regional farm and food economy studies, his job is to shed light on the realities of food systems change with the hardcore lens of economics. One of the most experienced and dedicated food system analysts in the United States, Ken’s work integrates market analysis, business development, systems thinking, and social concerns.

As president of Crossroads Resource Center, Ken has over 39 years of experience in inner-city and rural community capacity building and is passionate about engaging low-income people in creating solutions for themselves. His pioneering study of the farm and food economy of Southeast Minnesota, Finding Food in Farm Country, helped strengthen a collaborative of food producers and led to the creation of the Hiawatha Fund, a regional investment fund. His work serves as a national model for analyzing rural economics and has been adopted by 45 regions in 20 states across the U.S. and in one Canadian province.

What issues have you been focused on?

I focus on how local farm and food economies work and how to foster an effective movement to build stronger locales. Read more

“Community food enterprise” is the term Michael Shuman, author and Director of Research and Economic Development at BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), has coined to describe locally owned food businesses, which he argues are emerging as vital economic stimulators worldwide. His new report, Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in A Global Marketplace, illustrates how these businesses are becoming more competitive, scalable, and critical to global economic-development strategies. The work is the result of a multi-year partnership with a half-dozen analysts at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and the Wallace Center at Winrock International.

Recently, I talked to Michael about what why community food enterprises (CFEs) are so important, and why local food advocates should pay attention. Read more